By Michelle Chang
If you’re looking to extend your stay in Ecuador beyond 90 days but aren’t ready to apply for residency, consider extending your tourist visa. Once you know the process, it’s fairly easy to do in Cuenca.
About Tourist Visas
Many nationalities are allowed to enter Ecuador for business or tourism without a visa for up to 90 days. What’s somewhat unique is that these 90 days in Ecuador can be spread out at any time over a 12 month period.
In other words, you can come and go freely on your passport entry stamp, without a visa, for a year until you have stayed a total of 90 days in Ecuador. The “clock stops” when you leave the country.
For example, my husband and I arrived in Ecuador in October of 2021 and stayed for about two months. We went to the States for the holidays and were allowed to return without a visa later in January 2022. In early March, however, our 90 days were up yet we very much wanted to stay in Cuenca.
After reaching 90-day in-country limit, we would only be able to return visa-free starting in October 2022. Overstaying can incur a fine and/or prohibition from returning to Ecuador for a period of time.
Fortunately, Ecuador provides an option to extend the tourist visa for an additional 90 days while still in Ecuador. Unlike the first 90 days, this extension does expire in 90 consecutive calendar days.
Requirements for Visa Extension
To request a 90-day extension, all you need is your passport, some simple paperwork, and cash.
Apparently the process can be completed online for a fee, however, we found it straightforward enough to complete in-person fairly easily.
One thing to note is that it is not possible to apply for the visa extension until after you’ve spent 90 days in Ecuador. If you try on the 89th or even the 90th day, you will not be able to complete the process.
That said, I do recommend visiting the migratory support desk at some point in advance of your 91st day. Here’s why:
1) The staff can help you confirm which date will be your 91st day in Ecuador.
2) They will give you a slip of paper with the bank deposit info that you’ll need to pay the extension fee.
3) They can give you a copy of the one-page application form.
Another important thing to note is that the extension fee must be paid in-person at a Banco del Pacifico branch on the same day that you submit your application. You’ll then bring the receipt of deposit from the bank, which is in the centro historico, to the migration office at the Cuenca Airport.
Step By Step Instructions
If you want to be fully prepared in advance, you’ll need a color copy of your passport. If you’re able to print the color passport copy from home as well as the application form (available at the bottom of this page), go for it. Alternatively, you can pick up the application from the Migratory Support desk, and apparently there is a place in the airport food court that can do the color copies for a small fee.
Once you’ve confirmed your 91st day on the calendar and have the bank deposit info, plan to visit the Banco del Pacifico and then Migratory Support Services at Cuenca Airport on the same day.
Banco del Pacifico – Presidente Córdova between Calle Luis Cordero and Presidente Borrero, one block from Parque Calderón. (Other branches are further from the airport.) Open 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. week days.
Servicio Apoyo Migratario – Second floor of Cuenca’s Mariscal La Mar Airport. Open 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
There is a 30-day grace period to get the visa extension. To be safe, it’s great if you can go on day 91 of your entry stamp allowance. Because of Carnaval holidays and weekends, we went on our 94th day, and everything was fine.
As most tourists have little need to go inside a bank, here is some background info. It’s common to see long lines at the banks, and Banco del Pacifico is no exception. We arrived 5 minutes before the bank opened and found ourselves 8th in line, though not everyone went to see the tellers. At 8:30 a.m., security directed us to move inside, with strict instructions to remove hats and end cell phone calls before entering the building. They also scanned backpacks with a wand.
Once inside, we waited less than 10 minutes in line for the teller. We then handed over our slips of paper with the deposit info from Migratory Support, our passports, and cash for the payment to the teller.
The fee for the visa extension is equivalent to one third of the minimum wage salary in Ecuador. At the time of this writing it is $141.67 (check the government site to confirm).
The teller printed up individual receipts and asked us to review and sign them. Mine actually had an error — an extra digit in my passport number, so he made the correction and printed up another receipt for me. Once signed, he gave us carbon copies of the official receipt, another type of receipt, and our change due (since we hadn’t paid with exact change).
We were in and out of the bank in 15 minutes. Had we gone later, it may have taken much longer.
From the bank, the stop for bus 10 is just one block away and took us directly to the airport. Alternatively, you can walk three blocks to the tranvia platform on Gran Colombia or call a taxi.
Once inside the airport, there’s only one set of stairs in the middle of the building. At the top of the stairs, immediately to the right, is the Servicio Apoyo Migratario.
There are stanchions to form a line, but both times we visited, there was at least one available clerk at the Movimientos Migratorio windows and no line.
We turned in our application forms, official receipts from the bank, our passports, and the color copies of our passport page. We spoke in Spanish but I got the sense that the staff would speak English if you needed help.
Since we had come and gone during the first 90 days, I wanted to clarify which arrival date we should enter on our forms where it asks for “Fecha De Ingreso A Ecuador”. We were told to use the most recent arrival date.
We were asked to add our email address on the back of our form, and that was it. The final process took only two minutes.
Our passports were returned to us without any changes. A separate quarter-sheet of paper that has an official stamp and QR code serves as our Comprobante de Prórroga (proof of extension).
The final step is to keep those loose proof of extension slips safe until our departure!
We’re very happy to have the opportunity to extend our stay in Cuenca without too much hassle. Hopefully our experience will be helpful if you decide to extend your tourist visa.
Michelle Chang’s other Ecuador travel resources can be found on her blog, IntentionalTravelers.com. and her husband quit their traditional jobs in 2011 to serve as Peace Corps Volunteers. They have been location-independent digital nomads since 2014, running their online businesses while living abroad in different places, including Cuenca in 2016, 2021, and 2022. Michelle is author of the book, An Intentional Travelers Guide to Unconventional Budget Accommodations: Creative Ways to Save Money on Transformational Travel.